Newcastle in shock as heart attack during training kills Tiote
Former Newcastle United midfielder Cheick Tiote has died of a suspected heart attack while training with his new club, Beijing Enterprise, in China.
The Ivory Coast international, who made more than 150 appearances for Newcastle in seven years, collapsed at Enterprise's training ground yesterday morning and died in hospital.
Tributes have poured in for the 30-year-old, who signed for Newcastle from Dutch club FC Twente in 2010 and was hugely popular with both his team-mates and the club's supporters. Although injuries had taken their toll on the midfielder during the latter stages of his Newcastle career, restricting him to just three appearances this season, Tiote remained a charismatic presence at the club's training ground until his departure for China four months ago.
Signed for £3.5m from Twente, Tiote was a key player in the Newcastle side that finished fifth in the Premier League in 2012 and in his prime was considered one of the best defensive midfielders in England.
Tiote scored just one goal for the Magpies, but it was one of the most memorable in the club's recent history as he smashed home a spectacular 30-yard volley to equalise against Arsenal in a 4-4 draw at St James' Park in 2011.
Former Newcastle manager Alan Pardew paid tribute, saying: "I'm devastated to hear the news about my former player and friend Cheick Tiote.
"From the moment I arrived at Newcastle he was a wonderful presence around the dressing room and his performances on the field often defied belief.
"There were days when he must have covered every blade of grass on a football field and it didn't surprise me that clubs like Manchester United were being linked with him.
"None of us will ever forget that incredible day when our Newcastle team came from 4-0 down to draw an unbelievable Premier League game against Arsenal. Cheick's wonderful late goal is one of the iconic moments of Premier League history. I loved him. He was everything that you want in a Newcastle United player."
Rafael Benitez also praised Tiote's character, as he continued to work hard in training even though he rarely played for the first team this season before leaving for Beijing in February.
Benitez told the club's official website: "In the all the time that I have known him he was a true professional, dedicated and, above all, a great man."
Tiote was hugely popular at Newcastle's Benton training base and the club posted a video of his spectacular goal against Arsenal along with the words: "We will never forget you."
Many of his former team-mates also took to social media to pay their own personal tributes.
Demba Ba was among the first, writing: "May Allah grant you jannah brother Tiote." (© Daily Telegraph, London.)